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BPS P80m ‘Training’ Helicopters Arrive

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  • Helicopters arrived in SA on Monday
  • Annual fuel to cost more than P4 million per helicopter

LETLHOGILE MPUANG

The Botswana Police Service (BPS) is expected to receive the first batch of the three Enstrom 480b training helicopters worth P80 million this week, The Botswana Gazette has established.

The Botswana Gazette established that the first helicopter arrived in South Africa on Monday this week. The helicopter was delivered to Safomar Aviation. Director of the BPS Air Support Branch Arthur Johnson said he was on leave but referred all questions to their public relations department.

“We are so excited to preview our first Enstrom 480B helicopter for the Botswana Police Service. Our beautiful machine arrived yesterday at Century Avionics Lanseria. Thank you to Enstrom Helicopter Corporation for the amazing work done and our phenomenal team from Safomar Aviation Maintenance,” read a social media post on the Safomar Aviation on Monday. It is understood that the helicopter will be delivered to Botswana this week.

Last month, Johnson revealed that the helicopters were due for delivery in June 2020 but due to the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the delivery dates were pushed forward.

“As you are aware, the whole world is dealing with COVID-19, hence delays in the delivery of the helicopters,” he said in an interview. “We are expecting them to arrive sometime in August.”

While the Police was criticized for the purchase of such aircrafts, Johnson pointed out that the police air wing had last bought helicopters in 2015. “They are mostly going to be used for training,” he said.

“We have realised that the helicopters we bought in 2015 spent more hours on training rather than in operations.So we decided to get these new ones to use them for training. The Enstrom 480b helicopters are much smaller.” He explained that the P80million price covers the training of police pilots, installation of state-of-the-art Trakka Systems day/night cameras and searchlights, navigation and communication equipment, cargo slinging Light Emergency Medical Systems as well as free servicing and maintenance of the aircraft for the first two years.

“We currently have five aircrafts, one of which is due for a major service,” said Johnson. “The cost of service is as high as buying a new one. The new helicopters will also, in some instances, be used for operations.”

Research shows that based on 450 annual owner-operated hours and $4.25 (P49.21) per gallon fuel cost, the ENSTROM 480B has total variable costs of $230,625.00 (P2 670 374.59), total fixed costs of $135,926.30 (P1573871.60), and an annual budget of $366,551.30 (P4 244 246.19). This breaks down to $814.56 (P9431.68) per hour.

South Africa’s Safomar Aviation was awarded the tender. They are responsible for flight demonstrations, sales support, maintenance capability and contract negotiations. Safomar is the sole supplier of Enstrom Helicopters in southern Africa.

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